You have knowledge. You have experience. You want to get into the online coaching/teaching business, because you know that you can help someone reach the goals you’ve reached yourself. You don’t need to be a leading expert in the field. You definitely don’t need to be a “guru.” You’ve been a little farther down a certain road than most, and that’s worth money. So how do you get started?
Whether it’s a sport, a craft, travel, coding, hula-hooping, haiku, whatever it is; you can trade your experience for cash. Any victory or victories you’ve had can be converted into a tutorial-based business. There’s money in motivating and mentoring people who— like you did at one point— want to get started but don’t know how. All you need is the right tools, the right techniques, and the willingness to get started.
Group Sessions or Individual?
The first question to ask yourself is whether you’d prefer to train small groups or individual students. Most people think of private lessons as more expensive, and therefore more valuable. But while private lessons do have their advantages, that’s not what the price reflects. Private lessons cost more because only one person is paying for them! Whether you have 1 client or 10, an hour of your time is still an hour. That’s why most coaches prefer groups, to get the maximum profit out of their own time.
That’s not to say that a group setting only benefits the coach. When you have a group of learners, their ability to support and interact with each other can be very valuable. Sharing experiences, working with partners, doing group exercises, and otherwise varying the interaction patterns between clients makes for a much more interesting, dynamic, and fun session. Even formal education has taken on an approach that emphasizes peer-to-peer interaction.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with private sessions. While some people feel more comfortable in a shared experience with “classmates,” others feel pressured by the presence of others. While small groups of 4 to 6 do ensure that everyone can get individualized attention, some will pay to have their program tailored specifically to them. Decide how you can do your best work as a coach, and choose (and charge) accordingly.
The Package Deal
Once you’ve decided what kind of sessions you’ll be running, the next step is to decide the length of your program. One mistake to avoid is simply charging by the lesson. While this may seem flexible and convenient for the client, it almost always interferes with the results. When someone pays in advance for 6 or 12 sessions, they’re far more likely to attend them, and far more likely to see a difference. Otherwise, the casual client may drop into the occasional session, fail to see progress, and assume you’re to blame!
Part of what you’re teaching the clients— whatever it is you’re teaching them— is to be committed and consistent. That’s why it makes sense to sell packaged rather than individual sessions. Consider it onboarding; take their interest from casual to consistent, and start to build a longer-term relationship with them. Whether it’s once, twice, or several times per week, sell packages that last for at least 3 months.
Whatever you’re coaching, sessions should be at least 45 minutes to an hour. Anything less won’t accomplish much. In a group session, this allows enough time to give everyone a little individual attention while still maintaining the group dynamic. You’ll also need time for introductions and all the little “getting to know each other” interactions that aren’t content-related, but build the rapport that helps you teach more effectively.
You’ll also need time for review, feedback, instructions, and progress checks. There’s a lot to do besides actually teaching the session’s content! For example, it’s often a good idea to have clients share their “wins” and their struggles each session, to commiserate on their progress and stimulate ideas for improvement. You should also go over what was learned in the last session, and see how clients applied it. These things contextualize the content, and create continuity and accountability over the whole course of the “package.”
Finally, of course, there’s the teaching part. There are loads of techniques for every pursuit, and you should vary them in order to keep everyone engaged and interested. Q&A sessions, actual teacher-style lessons, role-playing, the list goes on. However you introduce the information, follow it up with some “homework” in which they have to apply it. At the next session, discuss how it went before moving on to something new.
Selling the Program
Rule #1 for getting clients should come as no surprise: you need a website. Even if you’re coaching in the physical world, you need at least a single web page. Your site should describe the number and duration of sessions in each package, and all the other benefits the customers are entitled to. Will they have access to a Facebook group? Infographics or e-books? What kind of support (besides the actual sessions) will you offer? Payment rates and methods should also be included.
Most importantly, your website should describe what results each client can expect, assuming they put the effort in. How are you going to change the way they (insert activity here)? The goal of every great product or service should be to solve a customer’s problem. Your website should reflect the fact that you know what the problem is, and explain exactly how your service can address it.
Choose your Platform and Get Started!
For most kinds of coaching, Google Hangouts or Skype should be able to meet your needs. Both are free, both work well with a good internet connection, and both allow you to hold live video sessions with up to 10 total people at a time. Google Hangouts has the added bonus of automatically recording and saving your sessions for later reference, but the same can be done through Skype with some added software (For Mac users, we recommend Ecamm’s Call Recorder).
The most important step to take in starting your coaching business is to do it. Don’t agonize over what you’re going to charge, or how “expert” you are, or what exactly you’re going to say to your clients. Create the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and get started. You’ll learn by doing. You’ll learn how to assess and address client’s needs. You’ll learn how to run a session.
No matter how new you are to coaching or teaching, you have one thing going that the competition doesn’t: your own unique experience and outlook. Lead with that strength, and the rest will follow.